If you’re a regular reader or you’ve been following our 9 Days of Glorio coverage, it’s pretty clear our writers have a wide range of opinions and perspectives – so wide, in fact, that despite using a mathematically sound voting system for our top 10 anime we somehow ended up with 11 entries! Nevertheless, our diverse taste is something we’re proud of and I think it reflects well on our final list.
So as you join us for one last look at the best anime of 2013, let me take this opportunity to say thanks to everyone out there for reading and commenting and making this blog fun to write every week. Starting with our new site design, we’re hoping to deliver even better content in 2014, so in the most disgustingly weeaboo way possible let me say “Otanoshimini~!” (TN: “O tanoshimi ni” is typically translated “Please look forward to it!”).
Timmy: Little Witch Academia was really a pretty amazing thing. It was beautifully animated with a great art style, it was funny and cute, and it had a nice story to tell. It is no doubt the thing that put Trigger on the map for many, and inspired a number of those, including myself, to throw cash directly at Trigger to help fund a second OVA. And of course it didn’t hurt that they had given us their attention in the first place. LWA is something I recommend to all my friends, anime and non anime fans alike, and as far as things the Japanese government have spent money on this was money well spent.
Marlin: I had a lot of reasons to like The Eccentric Family before going into it. Initial artwork looked stellar, and the writer’s previously adapted work, The Tatami Galaxy, is far and away one of my favorite anime of all time. However, I wasn’t very into it when that was first announced. It could be that Jel shook my faith in the writer after he panned The Tatami Galaxy, or simply a bit of fatigue from Summer’s work, but I didn’t even spearhead the First Impressions post. Watching episode one changed my mind immediately. Once again, we had an anime that could cater to more adult audiences as we got thrown in to a cast of characters that was refreshingly mature. The Eccentric Family is no grand narrative. Instead it is a lovingly crafted character drama that shows us of the life of a man that increasingly finds himself at odds with his culture, but is still connected by the love he has for his family. It didn’t hurt that P.A. Works hit this out of the park, delivering a visual wonder that made the world these characters live in come alive with broad pallets and beautiful setpieces. It is without reservation that I can claim The Eccentric Family is a show worthy of the title “Masterpiece.”
Aquagaze: A lot of people on the Glorio Blog quite enjoyed Yozakura Quartet. No one, however, yours truly included, is able to really put their finger on why. The characters aren’t exactly shining paragons of complexity. The plots are by-the-books at best and vague, if not completely nonsensical at worst. Even then, the degree of breast jiggling, panty shooting and fetish pandering — Thigh high socks! Nurses! Cat ears! Chinese dresses! Maids! — is so over the top it almost becomes frustrating. Yet Yozakura Quartet is also fun, happy-go-lucky and passionate. The strong direction and cinematic action is augmented by jawdropping animation — at least there where it counts. The quirky characters and their heartwarming antics are instantly loveable, the setting provides some interesting dynamics and most of all, everything from action to fanservice is carried out with a big smile. It might be a show that gets by almost entirely on its fun factor, but it’s certainly not the first to do so.
Aquagaze: What’s worse than trying to justify what is arguably the most controversial anime of the year? Trying to do so in one bloody paragraph. I remember being down and out the day the adaptation of one of my all-time favourite manga first aired. The moment I returned home, the first thing Iro said to me was “I’m sorry, Aquagaze. I’m so sorry.” And that’s just the least extreme reaction to this show I witnessed that day. Yet underneath the uncanny valley, the crippling pacing and the poor production values, I found something that, sadly enough, very few other people found: a tense, unnerving, clever, emotionally crushing psychological exploration with complex characters, enthusiastic performances, poignant direction and most of all, a thing so many other anime lack entirely – heart. It is pitch black and barely beating, but it is there. The Flowers Of Evil does what it can with the means it has been given with dedication. It is not here to grant your wishes or suck the money out of your wallet. It will not sway you, swoon you, comfort you or arouse you. It is original, clever, mature and thought-provoking. In other words, it is everything the show it is tied with isn’t.
Lifesong: Outbreak Company is otaku wish fulfillment fantasy at its absolute best. The series struck a perfect balance between a protagonist who is highly enthusiastic about anime, manga and visuals novels and the more serious issues involved in teaching a foreign culture to a willing audience of previously uneducated “kids”. Hilarity ensues when our protagonist is treated like a religious prophet, impresses all the moe anime girls, and builds a place for himself, but it was also played in a way that had a lot of heart. At the end of the day that is why I voted for it and what earned it a spot on this list.
Gee: There was a lot riding on Trigger’s TV debut, but Kill la Kill has managed to live up to and exceed those expectations. Enthusiastic, fun, and full of heart, every episode is a good time. It’s easy to see that, even with its limited budget, it’s being worked on by some of the most talented veterans in the industry. For all its zaniness, Kill la Kill is never random beyond belief, and each development is a surprisingly logical progression of one event to the next. From the lovable ensemble cast to the standout soundtrack to the awesome moments that make it all worth it, Kill la Kill is an example of how to take a crazy idea and make it tick.
Jel: What would happen if an ordinary girl was born with the ability to read minds? How would it affect her life, in both small and large ways? Deconstructing super powers is certainly nothing new, but filter those questions through the lense of an anime romantic comedy and Kotoura-san becomes something special. Skillfully swaying back and forth between intense drama, light hearted comedy, and one of the sweetest romances in recent memory, it’s a story about love, trust, and healing that is incredibly satisfying to watch.
Iro: Hot off Sword Art Online‘s coattails, I had low hopes for Log Horizon. One only has so much tolerance for “trapped in another world” plots, and even less for those where we’re “trapped in a video game”. But Log Horizon utilized the strengths of its now- cliché setup and avoided the weaknesses, easing us into a grand tale of surviving in world both familiar and frightening. LH is able to slowly dole out deep worldbuilding by using game mechanics to impose structure on a fantastical setting, allowing us to learn alongside endearing characters and become invested in the story. Strong plotting and pacing made Log Horizon one of my favorite shows of the year, if not ever.
Zigg: It’s really silly. That’s what everyone says. And JoJo is indeed a riotously ridiculous experience, packed full of comedy, high camp and magnificent insanity. That’s part of what makes it such an enjoyable romp. But to reduce it just to a parody of muscled men in dumb poses is to discredit the genuine storytelling substance that’s here. JoJo is a magnificent pulp adventure, full of goodies to cheer, baddies to boo, exotic locales to coo at and hideous monsters to defeat. There’s a classic timelessness to the tales being told, and and an imagination as rich and varied as you’ll see in any piece of fiction. ‘Good, dumb fun’ you’ll hear many say, but the truth is it’s so much more than that.
Jel: If there was ever a series that embodied the “sum is greater than the parts” cliché, it’s Love Lab. While it is another school girl club comedy at heart, it carves a place for itself with unique, likable characters and it never sits still long enough to be boring. Top notch production values amplify some genuinely funny gags, and small bits of drama and character development add warmth and heart to the fun. All of this is delivered without leaning on typical anime tropes or fan service (unless you count hot body pillow makeouts), making Love Lab a refreshing take on the genre that anyone can enjoy.
Gee: Funnily enough, I was the only one who had watched the series until December, when half the Glorio crew decided to marathon it at the last second. Its placement as our #1 of the year should be a testament to the uncontested heights Yamato 2199 reaches. A remake of the 40 year old classic, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 shows why the beloved story is considered a cultural icon of Japan. It’s a straightforward but riveting tale of survival, strategy, and struggle against impossible odds as humanity makes one last dash for their planet’s salvation. The story is engaging from start to finish, and there’s no fat to trim or bloat to slow it down. Whether it’s the exciting space battles, the back and forth drama between humanity and its Gamilan foes, or the characters themselves, every piece is integral to driving the plot to its eventual, heartful destination. Overall, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is a technical masterpiece and, in many ways, as close to perfection as an anime can achieve.